Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Sarah M. Eden's Longing for Home

First off, I'm not going to do any of that plot summary-type stuff because who wants to read a book if I tell you what's going to happen in it first? I mean, that's what the back of the book is for, right? Any more than that would mean spoilers, and I don't want to be THAT person (no offense, dear THAT person, I'm just not). So I'll do my best to be vague and still give a thorough review. Impossible? I hope not.

Here's the official product description, in case you're unfamiliar with this title:
Though she was only a child during the darkest days of Ireland s Great Famine, Katie Macauley feels responsible for the loss of her family s land and the death of her sister. Now a woman grown, Katie has left Ireland for America and the promise of earning money enough to return home again and plead for her family s forgiveness. She arrives in Hope Springs, Wyoming Territory, a town sharply divided between the Americans who have settled there, with their deep hatred of the Irish, and the Irish immigrants who have come searching for a place to call home. Her arrival tips the precarious balance, and the feud erupts anew. Even in the midst of hatred and violence, however, Katie finds reason to hope. Two men, as different as they are intriguing, vie for her heart, turning her thoughts for the first time toward a future away from Ireland. Katie must now make the hardest decision of her life: stay and give her heart a chance at love, or return home and give her soul the possibility of peace.
Through attending LDStorymakers writing conferences the past few years, I knew that Sarah M. Eden is a hilarious presenter with beaucoup knowledge and valuable writing tips--which would mean she's a good writer, yes? So when I was approached about doing a review for her latest romance, Longing for Home, I decided to take the opportunity. After I began reading--and ended up reading nearly half of the book that day--I had to ask myself why I hadn't read any of her previous novels.

The answer, I am ashamed to admit, is that I was prejudiced. I had a perception, created from the very few historical romances I've slogged through in the past,  that was less than favorable. I didn't want to have to force myself to read about characters didn't interest me or where the plot felt contrived solely to teach me about history (if I wanted that, I'd go to school, right?). Sarah's book did neither.

From the first sentence, I was intrigued by the main character, Katie, and the situation she found herself in. The progression of the story felt natural, the main characters complex and interesting. I loved that I was quickly immersed in Katie's new world, discovering the West along with her and learning about Katie's past with her friends. The fact that this was not your typical western/pioneer setting I found refreshing, and I appreciated the glimpse into the history of Irish immigration in the United States--something new to me. The best aspect of the book for me--and I shouldn't be surprised from what I'd seen of the author in real life--the witty conversations and playful teasing between the love interests. That chemistry, of course, is the most important part of any romance.

If I had to come up with any cons to this book, it is that I don't feel there is a true wrap-up in the end. I didn't realize it wasn't going to be a stand-alone book, so I was slightly disappointed by the ending. I realize now that there is a sequel, which I am sure will tie up those loose ends, but I feel the resolution to this book could have been tighter and still left room for the planned sequel. (Sorry, I don't want to give anything away, so if anyone wants to know exactly what I mean, please email me and I'll tell you!)

Overall, Longing for Home is an enjoyable read with engaging characters and lively banter. It's a nice balance of romance and history, fluff and fact, wit and emotion. The author has a comfortable style that makes the art of writing appear deceivingly easy. I will certainly look for more of Sarah M. Eden's books...and I guess I'll have to make sure to read Longing for Home's sequel next year.

Longing For Home is available at online retailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble as well as Deseret Book stores and other shops that sell LDS books. For the month of August, Longing For Home will specially priced at $7.99 for the ebook version.

If you'd like to get to know a little more about Sarah Eden, you can check out her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Sarah M. Eden's Longing for Home is part of a new line from Shadow Mountain.
Look for it under the genre of A Proper Romance.